Posted by David J. James
The interesting thing is, if we were to ask individuals doing business to report on all the good they do, they could with justification point to the high ethical standard of the Sermon on the Mount and other western Christian-derived ethical ideas which make it at least in bad taste and at worse a prideful thing that would deprive you of your “reward in heaven” to boast about good social works that an individual has done.
Maybe your reaction to the above paragraph is, “ok, but we are talking about companies, companies don’t have souls, they should report”, but the point then is: should we be applying to legal entities doing business requirements that we would not be able to apply to non-legal entities (sole traders and partnerships) if these are in direct competition with them?
I would like to suggest that the requirements for CSR reporting shouldn’t be a one size fits all even when by “all” we mean “all companies over a certain size limit”. It should be applied on a sector by sector basis, with sectors which have a larger environmental/social impact being asked to address specific points in CSR reporting selected for their industry or service sector.
The standards for CSR should contain a table with industries in the column headers, 100 CSR report questions in the row headers and 20-30 mandatory ticks as well as 10-15 secondary ticks where answering these questions in the CSR report is either mandatory or strongly advised, and each industry would have a tailor-made profile. Then unincorporated businesses in the particular sectors should also answer at least the mandatory questions, which would be tailored to address the particular adverse social aspects of the particular industry.
Obviously this needs to be done on an international basis, as business is international and these days more and more companies are “born global”.
Does that not sound reasonable?